How to Restore Leather Handbags

Old leather handbags never go out of style. Many of them have a classic, timeless style that goes with most everything. If not taken care of properly, an older leather bag can really show its age and need restoration. But this doesn't mean you need to spend hundreds of dollars on a new one. Restore your older leather handbag using supplies from home and the store. Once you're finished, you'll have a classic handbag to carry with you when you head out the door.

Vacuum the interior of the handbag as well as all interior and exterior pockets.

Sprinkle baking soda inside the interior of the handbag and all the pockets if any odour is present. Close the handbag, zip up the pockets and allow the baking soda to sit inside for a couple hours.

Lay newspaper down on your work surface.

Pour straight white vinegar onto a clean cloth. Wipe all metal and non-leather hardware with the vinegar to remove dirt and add shine.

Mix three capfuls of saddle soap with half a bucket of warm water.

Wet a clean cloth and wring out thoroughly. Rub the exterior leather with the cloth dampened with the solution to remove dirt and grime. Rinse the cloth, repeatedly, so you're not rubbing dirt back into the leather. Don't be afraid to apply a little pressure as you rub; you want to get into the pores of the leather.

Dry the leather exterior of your handbag using a clean, dry cloth.

Rub leather conditioner into the leather on your handbag. Apply more as needed and allow the conditioner to soak in. If the leather is particularly dry and drinks the conditioner right up, repeat this step.

Vacuum the baking soda out of the pockets and the interior of your handbag.


Take your leather handbag to a shoe repair shop if it has straps that are broken or torn away from the seam or missing hardware. They will have all the supplies needed to make these repairs.


If a strap is loose and needs a couple stitches at the seam, you can make the repair yourself but will need a heavy-duty needle and heavy-duty thread. Sewing leather is hard on the fingertips and hands and may cause callouses.

Things You'll Need

  • Vacuum
  • Baking soda
  • Newspaper
  • Clean cloths
  • White vinegar
  • Saddle soap
  • Water
  • Bucket
  • Leather conditioner
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Mary Ylisela is a former teacher with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and mathematics. She has been a writer since 1996, specializing in business, fitness and education. Prior to teaching, Ylisela worked as a certified fitness instructor and a small-business owner.